Training New Americans for in-demand jobs of tomorrow
5 Jun 2019
Our state will be short 239,000 workers by 2022, according to the Minnesota Chamber’s “Minnesota Business Benchmarks” report. There’s no simple way to address this workforce challenge. But with some guidance and training, recent immigrants will be able to help fill the labor gap.
For several years, the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (RMCEP) has been encouraging immigrants to work toward self-sufficiency through its New Americans program. Now RMCEP and its partners received a $550,000 competitive grant to augment these services and reduce employment barriers for New Americans with workforce training.
The Pathways to Prosperity (P2P) program grant runs until July 2020 and is targeted to new immigrant populations in Greater Minnesota. The grant specifically focuses on training for careers in healthcare and manufacturing.
“We’re focusing on healthcare and manufacturing as occupations or career pathways because they have in-demand jobs with reasonably high wages,” explains RMCEP Program Manager Arlyce Cucich.
The P2P grant enabled the hiring of four navigators to assist with recruiting and case management. Three of four are immigrants themselves.
A first step includes helping New Americans better understand the employment process and trust the systems that are in place to help them. “In our country, there are so many systems that people have to be able to navigate. It’s very different for immigrants who don’t understand the systems and why they’re in place or needed,” says Cucich.
She notes that immigrants are often distrustful of authority due to past experiences or uncomfortable giving out the personal information and details that organizations like RMCEP are required to collect for grant reporting. Navigators can help build trust with this community.
Navigators also work with New Americans to eliminate potential barriers to employment. These obstacles could include lack of English language skills or reliable transportation. Participants receive supportive services to assist with some of these needs. They may be able to access ESL classes or obtain a bus pass or gas cards.
RMCEP’s P2P grant partners include: Lakes and Prairie Community Action, Moorhead Adult Basic Education, United Way of Cass-Clay and the Afro American Development Association. The collaboration is working with MSTATE to develop customized certified nursing assistant (CNA) training as well as two types of manufacturing training.
Several area businesses are helping make on the job training experiences possible. “In working directly with businesses and job shadowing, we can make sure it’s a good fit for an individual and make sure it’s the right pathway to consider for employment,” says Cucich.
The P2P initiative is working with Eventide and Essentia on the CNA training. Trail King, Integrity Windows & Doors and Cardinal Glass Industries have signed on to help develop worker skills and certifications in manufacturing.
Even those who aren’t interested in healthcare or manufacturing careers can benefit from the P2P grant services. All participants who enter the project receive career counseling and pre-employment skill development. They can get assistance with job searches, resume creation, interviewing preparation and more.
“A lot of folks may not go into a specific training but they are still looking to find employment,” says Cucich. “We’re helping them to build a foundation for future employment.”